Julaihi: Power export to Singapore won’t affect effort to ensure full electricity coverage in Sarawak

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Julaihi (seated middle) answers queries during the press conference. Flanking him are Deputy Minister of Energy and Environmental Sustainability Dr Hazland Abang Hipni (seated second left) and Unimas vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi (seated second right).

KOTA SAMARAHAN (Sept 11): The export of electricity to Singapore will not affect the ongoing effort to ensure full electricity coverage in Sarawak, said Minister of Utility and Telecommunications Datuk Julaihi Narawi.

Julaihi said he took note of the worries raised by netizens on the social media, and he assured them that there is sufficient electricity for Sarawak’s own consumption.

“I have kept pace on what is going on on the social media. I read comments such as ‘why Sarawak ‘gago-gago’ (is busy) want to export electricity to Singapore when not many areas are linked to electricity?’

“Some areas are not covered with electricity supply because the houses are newly-built and some some settlements are located off grid and inaccessible. It is matter of time when their houses will be linked to electricity.

“It does not have an impact on our proposed power exchange to Singapore. ‘Sik ada langsung’ (none at all), because we have sufficient electricity for domestic consumption in Sarawak,” he said at a press conference after witnessing the handover of accreditation letter for Solar Photovoltaic System Design Course for Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) at the university’s Detar Putra Hall today.

To another question, Julaihi said the tariffs to be charged to Singapore when the power exchange is realised will be much higher than what is charged on consumers in Sarawak.

“Ours is still cheaper than what we export. The tariffs charged on Singapore will be higher because that is our income for Sarawak in the long-term. We already exported electricity to Kalimantan for few years and it is still ongoing

“We will also export to Sabah, which according to our power exchange agreement is supposed to be (commenced) on Nov 30 but we have grace period of six months to supply to Sabah,” he said.

He also said the sale of electricity to Singapore is based on agreement and understanding between both sides

According to him, the submarine sea (subsea) cable will involve a distance of about 700km which will be going through Muri-Midai Corridor where Malaysia and Indonesia have signed a treaty. About 80 per cent of the cable will be in the Indonesian waters, while 20 per cent will be in the Malaysian waters.

“Firstly, we only sell electricity, the (cost of laying of) subsea cable is borne by Singapore. Secondly, we sell by capping to maximum of 1,000MW only. If there is an energy-intensive industry that wants to invest in Singapore but the electricity supply is not sufficient, we put a condition that the industry is relocated to Sarawak.

“This will benefit the growth of industries in Sarawak, which contributed to economic development in Malaysia not just Sarawak only. These are among our conditions,” he said.

He, however, did not want to reveal more details on the tariff rates and other matters, stressing that it is still under commercial negotiation between both sides.

“The negotiation is progressing to advanced stage already. When all is finalised, the Premier will disclose it. At the moment, we cannot disclose everything,” he added.

On Sept 6, Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg had said the state government, together with its Singapore partners Sembcorp International and Singapore Power Group, has completed a comprehensive technical study and the commercial negotiations are in the advantage stage.

Two days earlier, the Premier had said he saw nothing wrong with Sarawak exporting energy to Singapore and he viewed it as a win win solution whereby Singapore in turn would position its investments in Sarawal.

Abang Johari had said Singapore requires significant energy supply for its industries and as such, Sarawak may be able to provide Singapore with our green and renewable energy generated from its hydroelectric dams.

It had been reported on Jan 30 this year the proposed export of electricity will cost up to SG$8 billion if realised.